Winner of the 2013 Helen Kay Chapbook Poetry Prize
Cover photo: aaroads.com (Alex Nitzman, Andy Field)
Marilyn Cavicchia gives vivid voices to the drivers and passengers traveling a rainy stretch of freeway in eastern Ohio. She conjures distinctive verbal identities for each of her personae, and each poem’s vignette delights the imagination and the ear. A further joy is to trace the “secret rivers” of relationship among these characters: between the anti-fracking activist and the grandmother looking forward to a check for the drilling rights to her yard; between the divorced father driving a balloon van and the road-ragey driver of the Chrysler behind him; between the energy contractors new to the community and the locals in whom the rapid changes inspire both bewilderment and hope. Cavicchia’s brilliant poems precisely observe the details of life in this city—yet her Ohio freeway represents every motorway in America, where rivers of vehicles propel their occupants toward regret, nostalgia, and inevitable transformation. —Jennifer Bullis, author of Impossible Lessons
Cavicchia knows that the true soul of any place resides not in its well-trod highways and main streets, but rather down the psychological back roads traversed only by locals, though well known to everyone. Like shorthand Sherwood Anderson, each of these compact poems maps the crossroads of boom and bust, of loyalty and betrayal, of prejudice and unfulfilled dreams that haunt virtually every small American town whose inhabitants are exploited as much by their own well-intentioned fears as any outside interests. —William P. Tandy, author of Smile, Hon. You’re in Baltimore!
The residents in Secret Rivers navigate a community coming apart at the seams; we’re privy, poem by poem, to the thoughts that worry below the surface of ordinary encounters. With language both spare and intimate, Cavicchia explores isolation, resentment, polite existence, and occasional rivulets of hope, of people facing the inevitable advance by an unnamed company promising big payoff and no risk, in exchange for permission to rive what lies underneath a dying town’s yards and land. “So many decades beyond saving/ that fear begins to look like hope”, we read. These poems remind us to listen, to each other and ourselves. —Valerie Wallace, author of The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping
Read selections from “Secret River” Barbara, Driver, Chrysler Town & Country 21; Justin, Driver, Chevy Volt 22; Lauren, Driver, Mazda 3 23; Julie, Driver, Ford Taurus Wagon 25; Robert, Driver, Buick LeSabre 26; Marjorie, Driver, Cadillac DeVille 29; Nancy, Driver, Toyota Avalon 30 in Evening Street Review, NUMBER 10, Spring 2014